ORLANDO – Atlanta United’s late-game defense has hurt it throughout the season. But its late-game offense helped it salvage a tie Saturday.

Forward Tyler Wolff’s equalizer in the 87th minute helped Atlanta United manage a 1-1 tie with Orlando City after being outplayed for most of the evening. After the ball ricocheted off goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, Wolff’s follow-up shot soared over Gallese to help Atlanta United get a point out of its trip to Central Florida.

Wolff, a Snellville native, entered the game at the 79-minute mark and created a needed jolt of energy.

“Obviously for young guys, it’s been tough playing here in Atlanta because there are so many talented guys,” Wolff said. “It’s pretty simple: When a young guy gets a chance, you have to take it. You don’t have much time to wait for your next opportunity. When you get in, you have to do something.”

Manager Gonzalo Pineda said Wolff provided “a big” spark. Pineda added Wolff could possibly start for the first time this season sometime in the near future.

“That’s how players, especially young players, push for starting positions,” Pineda said. “For sure, he will be in the conversations because this is multiple weeks he’s been very good. Not just in games, but in training sessions. So of course he will be in the conversations.”

Atlanta United, the highest-scoring team in MLS, avoided being shut out for the first time this season. Still, it again dealt with a lethargic start. The club didn’t seem to find urgency until later in the second half.

All the signs would point to a loss. Orlando City outshot Atlanta United (13-11), had more shots on goal (5-3) and possession was nearly even. Kyle Smith’s right-place-right-time goal in the 30th minute put Orlando City ahead and the club seemed likely to retain that advantage given how the game progressed.

Wolff’s equalizer stunned a rowdy crowd. Pineda noted his team built momentum later in the game but it needs to figure out how to start faster.

“I felt there was more (energy) 10 minutes into the second half,” Pineda said. “I felt like we started to catch up. Then at the end of the game, I felt like we were the better team in the last 20, 25 minutes. So I was happy with the reaction. But it’s exactly what we’ve discussed. We have to start with that mentality from the beginning. That’s obviously to me. Then it was a big effort, it ( can be challenging) to play at this field with this humidity. So a lot of positives but not completely happy about the performance.”

Saturday continued Atlanta United’s road frustrations, as well. The club still has only two road victories dating back to April. It hasn’t won its past seven away matches (four draws, three losses).

But the best development of the evening was goalkeeper Brad Guzan’s return. Just seven weeks after tearing his MCL, the club’s captain started Saturday. Guzan was originally projected to miss 10-to-12 weeks, but the team indicated he could come back sooner (he was questionable for Saturday).

“I don’t go off these timeframes,” Guzan said. “I told our doctor, ‘I’m not hanging out for 10 weeks. It’s not going to be 10 weeks. It’s going to be earlier than that.’ … For me, I was looking more four (weeks). So I was a bit behind. But I’m happy to be back.”

Guzan, 38, impressed in his return. He had a couple nice saves, including a diving stop in the 78th minute.

“His body is very strong,” Pineda said. “He hadn’t had many injuries in his career, but now we’ve learned he’s a guy who recovers pretty fast from injuries. It’s his mentality, he’s a guy who’s always asked, ‘Hey, can I do this more? Can I try this tomorrow?’ He’s always challenging the (standard) of certain things, which we have to balance out things to be safe as well, but he checked all the boxes in his recovery. … He’s just a guy who recovered very fast. And that urgency to be back on the field and helping his teammates is what makes him very good.”

Speaking of injuries, Atlanta United had a scare in the 58th minute when forward Georgios Giakoumakis, whose eight goals have him in contention for the Golden Boot, hurt his ankle going for a 50-50 ball. Orlando City’s Wilder Cartagena missed the ball and hit Giakoumakis’ ankle, leading to him tumbling and staying down for a while. Cartagena immediately apologized. Giakoumakis walked gingerly off the field but returned later.

Referee Allen Chapman, who was inconsistent throughout the night, allowed play to continue after the collision.

“He’s OK, it was just managing his load – we have to be careful with him, not just for now but even for the future,” Pineda said of Giakoumakis, who’s been on a minutes limit as he works his way back from a hamstring injury. He played 67 minutes Saturday.

Atlanta United will host New England at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Wednesday. The Five Stripes are 5-1-1 at home. They are one of three Eastern Conference teams with five or more home victories this season, joining Cincinnati (8-0-0) and Nashville (5-1-2).